Belfast Telegraph

David Bowie death stuns music world with loss of a true original

By Nina Massey

Countless fans and a stunned musical world are coming to terms with the death of legendary rock star David Bowie.

His groundbreaking music inspired generations during a career spanning six decades.

He died on Sunday at the age of 69 after being diagnosed with cancer.

The cultural pioneer's death following an 18-month illness was confirmed by his family.

His son, film director Duncan Jones, tweeted: "Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all."

The singer and guitarist died surrounded by his loved ones, a statement on his Facebook page said.

Dated January 10, it read: "David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer.

"While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."

Bowie's death was confirmed three days after the release of his final album, Blackstar.

Prophetically, its lead single, Lazarus, opens with the lyrics: "Look up here, I'm in Heaven."

He also once said: "As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I've got left?"

Stars from the world of showbiz mourned the loss of the Ashes To Ashes singer - their grief made more acute by the fact little was known about the extent of his ill-health.

Scottish singer-songwriter Midge Ure said: "We are all swimming in his wake, so I don't think you could top, on creativity, and consistent creativity, I don't think you could top, anyone could top, David Bowie in the UK musical history."

On Bowie's illness, Ure said: "I think people within the industry had heard rumours about cancer, we'd heard rumours about him not being well. We all knew something was amiss but this is more than just turning on your phone in the morning or turning on the television and finding out that another celebrity has passed on. I'm standing here, my hands are shaking, I feel as though I've lost something, I've lost something incredibly important today."

The singer released Blackstar - the first of his records not to feature his portrait on the cover - with little promotion, having barely performed in public since falling ill in June 2004.

He made a surprise comeback in 2013 after a 10-year break from recording when he suddenly released a new single on his 66th birthday, with an album out weeks later.

The star made a habit of confounding the critics - killing off his most famous alter ego Ziggy Stardust at the height of his fame - and reinventing himself in roles including glam rocker, soul singer and hippie songwriter.

Bowie, born David Jones in post-war Brixton, south London, kicked off his music career in the R&B boom of the early 1960s.

In 1969 he made his first appearance in the charts with Space Oddity. A string of albums followed, before 1972's The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars made him an international star.

Superstar spent a lifetime breaking the boundaries of his art

1947 - David Jones is born in Brixton, south London, to parents Margaret Mary Jones and Haywood Stenton Jones

1967 - Releases self-titled debut album, which fails to chart

1969 -He makes his first appearance in the charts as David Bowie with Space Oddity

1971 - Releases Hunky Dory, featuring singles Changes and Life On Mars

1972 - Releases The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

1973 - A prolific period continues with Aladdin Sane

1974 - Releases the Diamond Dogs LP

1976 - Earns acclaim for his first major film role, portraying an alien from a dying planet in The Man Who Fell To Earth

1977 - Releases Heroes

1980 - Scores a number one single with Ashes To Ashes

1983 - Reaches a new peak of commercial success with Let's Dance

2004 - Plays last UK show at the Isle of Wight Festival. Suffers a heart attack later in the year and is rarely on stage again

2014 - Diagnosed with cancer - although the announcement is only made public after his death

2016 - Releases Blackstar on his 69th birthday. Dies two days later.

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